04/20/2023 08:52

Film: Malum

Year: 2023

Director: Anthony DiBlasi

Writers: Anthony DiBlasi and Scott Poiley

Starring: Jessica Sula, Candice Coke and Chaney Morrow



This is a movie that popped up on my radar when I learned that it was a remake of co-writer/director, Anthony DiBlasi’s earlier film of Last Shift. This is one that has been on my list for a bit to see, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it. When I saw that this was showing at the Gateway Film Center, I made it a point to check it out. It also had buzz words that got me excited. I’ve also now given it a second watch to see where I stood for my end of year list.

Synopsis: a rookie police officer willingly takes the last shift at a newly decommissioned police station in an attempt to uncover the mysterious connection between her father’s death and a vicious cult.

We start this off with seeing police footage. Someone is filming a group of woman that are playing in a creek. It turns out that they’re attacked and taken by a cult. The leader is John Malum (Chaney Morrow). With him is Dorothea (Clarke Wolfe), Kitty (Morgan Lennon) and Little Lottie Throat (Bekah Medford) among others. We see as they hurt these four young women.

That is until it shifts over to Will Loren (Eric Olson). He was the police officer that led the raid to put an end to what they were doing. It was reported the leader was killed at the scene. Whatever happened messed with Will’s head. He gets praise from fellow officers like Officer Price (Sam Brooks). Something horrific happens here as Will goes off the deep end.

It then jumps one year later. Will’s daughter Jessica is now a policer officer. It is her first day. She chose to take the last shift at the police station where her father went crazy. Before going in, she visits her father’s grave where she has a run in with her mother, Diane (Candice Coke). What happened with Will has messed her up even more. She has turned to alcohol. The night is also unnerving that the followers of Malum are making trouble at the new station.

Jessica arrives, taking over for another officer, Grip Cohen (Britt George). There is a combination of telling her the ropes while also questioning why she would pick to work this shift. The truth of the matter is trying to piece together what happened with her father here. She wants to see if there is an explanation. It doesn’t take long for this spooky, nearly abandoned police station to become a nightmare. It starts when a large pig is left outside, the marking of the Church of the Lower God on its back. I believe that is what this cult is calling themselves. From there, she gets more visitors that might not be real and she must fight to survive. She also uncovers even darker truths about what happened here.

That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the characters. Where I want to start is with the set up. I love that this set the tone showing us police footage, which made things creepy. Then from there, we get to meet our characters. I wasn’t expecting with happened with Will so that also helped get me settled in. What is interesting is that I saw another reviewer say this was DiBlasi combining elements of John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness with Assault on Precinct 13. I think that is a good way to describe this in a nutshell.

I think where I want to go first with delving deeper is with our lead. Jessica loved her father. It bothers her when she hears others talking about bad things about him. I can’t fault her there. To her, he was a good man. No one can take that away. What she is trying to do by taking her first shift in this police station before it closes down is see if she can make sense of what happened. What I like here is the mystery that unfolds. There are different things that she finds to go to the next clue. It feels a lot like what you’d get in a horror video game like Resident Evil. You need to do something before other things get opened up. I did appreciate that. I wanted to commend Sula for her portrayal as well. It feels real and there is emotions behind it. Being a woman is another aspect that I factor in with how she is talked to by her peers.

Next then would be one of my favorite parts of this with the cult. They are like a Lovecraftian one to me. I’m not sure if this ‘Lower God’ is a demon or something older than that. There are things that we learn though about them and their leader that had me glued to learn more. Malum doesn’t seem to age. This is something that is slid in here and not necessarily focused on. That is creepy. His followers are Manson-like in Wolfe, Lennon and Medford. That adds creepy value there. They are mostly seen through interrogation footage. Not everyone is as they seem though which is where I’ll go next. I did also want to give credit to those actors I named as well as Morrow. The rest of his crew are also good along with acting to make things feel more unnerving. There is a bit of overacting, especially from Coke and a couple others. This doesn’t ruin it, but I noticed during my rewatch.

Now I will say that this is a supernatural movie. What is interesting though is that Jessica is told not to go into the holding cell area. My thought was that the officer knows it is haunted. When she reveals that she had to go in there, he says there is black mold. That sets up she could be hallucinating. I like that they introduce this, even though I don’t believe that is the explanation. There are a slew of characters that come through, but we don’t know if they’re real or the entity making her see them. That makes this a nightmare and it gets more leeway with dream logic.

The last bit that I want to go into before shifting away from the story is the setting. Having this in a nearly abandoned police station is terrifying. It makes doors difficult to open due to the locking mechanisms. It explains having a smaller cast. The lights aren’t also great so it is darker than it should be due to being closed down. This also helps with the atmosphere and I wanted to give credit. I should also point out that the cinematography is great along with the sound design. I was quite impressed to be honest.

All that is left then to go into are with the effects. The blood that we got looked good. I would say that a majority of that is practical, which I appreciate. I would bet there is CGI here. What they use it for is good. It is used in conjunction with practical effects and that is what it should be used for. I’ll say that the framing of the shots helped. This does relay on jumps cares. I’d say they were used effectively though. This is another plus.

In conclusion, this is a movie that I rather enjoyed. I’m at a disadvantaged of seeing the more polished version. It makes me want to go back and see Last Shift now. This does things that I love though. Having a terrifying setting that is an abandoned police station. I like that there’s a cult and there could be demons actually here. There is even a Lovecraftian vibe as well. I thought that the acting was solid. I give more credit to the Morrow as the cult leader and his crew. This just feels like a nightmare where we don’t know where the seams of the world are. I’d recommend this if things that I said tick boxes for you.


My Rating: 8 out of 10